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The Order of Days: The Maya World and the Truth About 2012 Hardcover – May 17, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“More than a rebuttal of the apocalypse-pushers, The Order of Days is a broader (and more interesting) consideration of the role that time played in Maya culture…. An authoritative study of an fascinating and timely topic. And not to worry if your reading takes you beyond next Dec. 21.”  -The Wall Street Journal

About the Author

David Stuart is a Mayanist scholar and professor of Mesoamerican art and writing at the University of Texas at Austin. He began deciphering Mayan hieroglyphs at the age of eight, under the tutelage of Linda Schele. He has made major contributions in the field of epigraphy, particularly related to the decipherment of the Mayan script used by the pre-Columbian Mayan civilization of Mesoamerica.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype (May 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385527268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385527262
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,098,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Stuart (b. 1965) holds the Schele Chair in Mesoamerican Art and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin. He is an archaeologist who specializes in the study of ancient Maya civilization, focusing much of his research on the interpretation of art and the translation of hieroglyphic texts. He has been a major contributor to the decipherment of Maya hieroglyphs since a young age, and for his work was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1984. In 2011 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Stuart received his BA at Princeton University, his Doctorate at Vanderbilt University, and he taught at Harvard University from 1993 to 2004. He currently lives in Austin, Texas.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Berman on November 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Few Mayanist scholars command the experience and authority of David Stuart. Over the last few decades, Stuart has been responsible for some of the biggest breakthroughs in the decipherment of Maya iconography and hieroglyphics and he has authored numerous books on the subject. In his newest, The Order of Days: The Maya World and the Truth about 2012 (Harmony Books, New York, 2011), Stuart explains basic Maya ideas of time and calendrics while also addressing misconceptions about 2012. For, as one reviewer already put it, 2012 is "an embarrassing situation to serious scholars," many of whom have felt compelled to publish similar clarifications. Still, I'm glad the 2012 hub-bub spurred Stuart to write The Order of Days, one of the most grounded, fact-based, academic-yet-readable books I've read on the subject.

I'm a newbie Mayaphile with many questions and in this book, Stuart clarified many things I'd been wondering about. Like, for instance, the difference between the Aztec calendar round and Maya calendars (and why they are so often confused); or a big-picture explanation of the Maya's "deep time" inscriptions and what they mean for the bak'tun ending in 2012. I loved the mini-lectures about each of the most famous Maya stelae, vases, inscriptions, and murals -- objects I'd seen before, but never accompanied by such concise explanations.

When it comes to the general 2012 doomsday nonsense though, Stuart does not have much patience, especially when it invokes fabricated connections to the Maya. Stuart waits until the end of the book when he holds his nose to examine 2012 and the most important evidence regarding 12/21, Tortuguero Monument 6.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Joan C Wrenn on November 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From an ancient Itzá prophecy, through the central Mexican Aztecs, to the ancient and contemporary Maya, epigrapher David Stuart takes the reader on a refreshing and enjoyable journey through Mesoamerica from the earliest known times to the present concerns about the "end" of the Maya calendar in 2012.

Drawing upon his own experiences growing up in the land of the Maya, and then his research into their languages, worldview and ancient writings, Stuart shares his insights into Maya views of space and time, the Mesoamerican calendar from its earliest days to the present, and how western scholarship has progressed in its understandings from early ideas to current theories, to possibilities awaiting new discoveries and learnings.

Stuart explains in clear and readable language the three aspects of the Maya time system: the tzolk'in 260-day sacred calendar (still used by Maya daykeepers today), the 365-day political calendar and "long count" date enumeration system (that faded with their great civilization), and their "grand long count" that extends far into the deep past before the current 5,126-year cycle soon to be completed, and far into the future. The Maya ability to reckon time is revealed to be much longer and deeper than science today estimates for the life of the universe!

Stuart's explanations are accompanied by photos and drawings of Maya inscriptions from a variety of their ruined cities. Altogether Stuart's prose is informative, and he does not hesitate to correct colleagues and new agers when their thoughts are not founded on clear evidence. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the ancient Maya.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Booky24 on June 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Do you get David Stuart's opinion? - Yes
Does this book make the most sense on the 2012 subject?- Yes
Is it written in an easy to read yet informative and intellectual manner? - Yes
Did I enjoy reading it? - Yes
Am I going to write a book about it as my review? - No
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Evil Voodoo Celt on February 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book is misleading- the scope of Stuart's work is far larger. While giving a lucid and scholarly explication of Maya calendrics, he sets it in a larger context, showing that Maya beliefs on time and the calendar were not unique, but part of a continuum that spread across the entire Mesoamerican world.

There is much in here that fascinates- the sheer staggering scope of time that the Maya conceptualized (it's not often that the word "octillions" comes into play even in physics, much less in archaeology), the presentation of the Maya view of time as not so much cyclic as patterned and *folded*, deriving mythic meaning not by mere repetition but by a sort of harmonizing or iteration...

He spends very little time on the 2012 matter itself, although what he does say is guaranteed to make no friends amongst the doomsayers and believers in earth changes. But his treatment of the matter is not so much a dismissal as an explication of how utterly foreign to the ancient Maya worldview most of these preoccupations are.

I have some minor quibbles here- as others have pointed out, there are some annoying errors, especially in the labeling of illustrations (and some of the illustrations themselves seem to be reversed). He also strongly de-emphasizes astronomy as part of the Maya worldview; I need to read some of the opposing camp before I make up my mind on that matter. But still, a scholarly, temperate voice in the discussion. Well worth reading.
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